Unique watches that break the rules: 7 amazing luxury timepieces from Cartier to Patek Philippe with unconventional designs
Elegant, exhilarating and eclectic, be WOW-ed by these extraordinary creations. Post SIHH 2017, we look at seven timepieces that have transcended the norms of watchmaking.
Watchmaking is unmistakably about craftsmanship. Some commentators insist that watchmaking is very much like art and this might be true but only if one considers it an industrialized and cooperative art, like filmmaking. Nevertheless, the imaginations of luxury watchmakers have birthed timepieces that are out of this world, effectively making them larger than life. This spread takes that idea and brings it to life, paying tribute to the efforts of the watchmakers. Combining both technical elegance and grit, these seven watches challenge the boundaries of watchmaking, if there are any.
Known for their state of the art luxury fluidic watches, the HYT H3 defies the generalisation of traditional watches. Incorporating a linear design as the series’ trademark, the H3 is a step away from the usual circular face in previous ‘H’ watches. A capillary is located above a horizontal layer of 6 cubes –which contain each quarter of the day- that operates on a jump hour. Clockwork: the red retrograde minute hand snaps back from 60 to 00 after every hour. When it’s the last hour of the quarter the green liquid retracts back to the first cube signaling a new part of the day. The movement is powered by the energy created a pair of bellows as well as a vacuum in the fluid system. Shockingly unique and mesmerizing, the H3 unlocks a whole new world to watch design and engineering.
Patek Philippe Grand Complications Ref. 6300G-001 Grandmaster Chime
A more classic take on its cousin, the blockbuster Grandmaster Chime Ref. 5175, legendary watchmaker Patek Philippe has unveiled a new reference of its 175th-anniversary giant. The 6300G-001 is a double-faced reversible wristwatch that includes the original 20 head spinning complications. Its two faces showcase the sonnerie and time, the other a full perpetual calendar. The 6300G-001is the most complicated wristwatch of all time but not by the mere number of complications. Obviously there are mechanical wonders with more complications but none has dared to take the pinnacle of timekeeping – the grand sonnerie – to even greater heights by sounding out the date too. As of 2017, no other watch has even come close.
Bell & Ross BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire
Bell & Ross has long been a brand fascinated with vintage aviation design. This admiration has been captured and reimagined in multiple forms through its BR series. With the BR-X1 Chronograph Tourbillon Sapphire, this dedication is encased in a 45mm case cut out from nine blocks of sapphire, adding a degree of technical complexity that one can feel as well as see – and see through. This renders the watch fully transparent, providing a window to view all of its intricacies. The case is paired with a translucent rubber strap inlaid with metallic finish woven Kevlar, achieving contemporary style and finish.
Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astromystèrieux
When you look at a watch like the Rotonde de Cartier Astromystérieux, the illusion it presents is near hypnotic. The watch’s central display area is completely transparent, adding instead of taking away from the mysteries of its workings. With the word ‘mystery’ smack in its name, it is no wonder this piece by Cartier presents itself as another horological puzzle. The question this watch poses is how it is connected to the winding and setting mechanism, which is via the crown. As you can see, there appears to be no connection between the mechanical calibre and the crown. Well, how does it work? Four separate sapphire crystal disks are layered upon each other — each housing a different component — creating an illusion that the entire movement is suspended in the oculus of the watch dial. The juxtaposition between the elegance and complexity of this watch is what makes it breathtaking.
Hublot MP-05 LaFerrari
As Ferrari‘s official timekeeper and watchmaker, Hublot first revealed the MP-05 LaFerrari in 2013 and has since put out a full sapphire version. The original all-black watch was created as a tribute to Ferrari, with its design reminiscent of the iconic LaFerrari car’s V-shaped engine block. The watch’s movement runs on an astounding 637 components, coupled with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal face and a matte black finish for the titanium case. Black anodized cylinders with red accents along the 11 mainspring barrels reveal the time. With an exceptional power reserve of 50 days, the LaFerrari surely does live up to its powerful counterpart.
Franck Muller Vanguard Gravity
Franck Muller‘s avant-garde style is revered as refreshingly different and daring, and this leading watch master has never been known to follow the norms. Part of the Vanguard collection, the Vanguard Gravity embodies the company’s raison d’être of uniqueness in both technicality and design. Boasting peerless visual impact in a tourbillon watch (the tourbillon section is massive), the watch represents an evolution of the Cintrée Curvex aesthetic. Set off center, the balance wheel pulls attention to the curved cage that holds it in place.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatour Cobalt MicroMelt
The Roger Dubuis Excalibur Quatuor Cobalt MicroMelt is not a new watch per se, but rather a revamped version in a striking new material. Having recently made its debut at SIHH 2017, the watch boasts a cobalt-chromium alloy case, making it a world-first. Extremely resistant to the effects of time, the case is made using MicroMelt technology. Like precious metals that maintain their lustre forever, this new material promises to be eternal – while also adding an element of extreme durability. This process consists of melting the alloy down before a high-pressure gas stream is employed, atomizing the alloy and resulting in a powder. Followed by a hot-isostatic pressing, it is condensed into maximum density making the case material extremely durable. The incredible technology used to create this timepiece is what boosts it into our list.
These images were first published as a spread in the Festive Issue 2016 of WOW (World of Watches). The WOW team would like to highlight that this spread was incorrectly credited. The digital artist responsible is Zi Wen.